Sure, you knew things weren't perfect in your marriage. But it seemed like you got along pretty well.
Didn't argue much. And both spent a lot of happy times with the kids.
But something along the way changed for your wife.
Maybe it was a shock when you heard the news or maybe you saw it coming. But either way, you're saying to yourself, "I can't believe my wife wants a divorce. What should I do? Should I let my wife divorce me amicably?"
It's rare for both spouses to be on the exact same page about divorce at the exact same time. What's more common is wife wants divorce, husband doesn't. Even if the husband is fully aware the marriage has broken down.
That might not make you feel any better, but now that you know your wife wants a divorce, you need to know how best to proceed without losing your kids (and your shirt) in the process.
You might be tempted to do one of four things:
1.) Wife wants divorce? You could ignore it and hope it goes away.
I don't really think my wife wants to divorce me.
We’ve had our ups and downs in our relationship before so why would this time be any different?
She's probably just having a mid-life crisis.
But the reality is:
Your wife never asked for divorce before. This time she's serious.
When your wife asks for divorce, she means it.
2.) My wife wants a divorce but I don't. You could try to talk her out of it.
If I reason with her and can just get her to agree to keep going to marriage counseling or try a couples retreat, I know I can change her mind or at least get her to consider a trial separation first.
I'll also promise to listen to her this time and go to individual therapy.
And if I tell her how much I love her and that this will destroy my life (and the kids), I know she'll think twice about proceeding with divorce.
But the reality is:
You've been in marriage counseling for years and things haven't improved.
All the fighting and then avoiding each other in front of the kids is hurting them (and you) more. And she's not willing to create false hope that your relationship can be saved and give it another chance because she knows things won't get better.
3.) What to do when your wife wants a divorce: You could dig your heels in and not give her one.
It takes two to get married so it has to take two to get divorced, right?
But the reality is:
If your wife wants a divorce then you're both getting a divorce.
You can't force your wife to stay married to you. And if you refuse to cooperate, you’ll find yourself getting served divorce papers anyway.
Then you’ll be left with no choice but to…
4.) What to do when your spouse wants a divorce: You could hire a divorce lawyer and try to protect yourself.
My spouse wants a divorce? I need to hire a lawyer to protect myself and not get screwed.
But the reality - and problem is:
Your divorce will go from friendly to flammable in a millisecond. And will drain your bank account even faster.
Ever hear of a cost-effective or amicable divorce that involved divorce lawyers, litigation or court?
And even if you're tempted to do any of these four things, you're smart enough to know that none of them are good for you or your children.
Want to know a better way?
For a father who loves his kids and doesn’t want to turn the divorce into an emotionally draining and financially ruinous process, there is a better alternative:
What to do when your wife wants a divorce: Take care of yourself, learn how to accept her decision, then mediate!
If your wife asked for a divorce and you don’t want to put yourself or your children through the ringer, you learn how to cope with divorce and get help and support for your emotional well-being.
Then, once you've had the time you need to mentally process and come to accept that your marriage is ending, you mediate your no fault divorce.
Divorce Mediation is:
Better for your kids
Divorce mediation allows you to negotiate the terms of your settlement as parents, not litigants. Because even though you’re no longer going to be husband and wife, you love your kids and are still and always will be dad and mom.
Mediation is about preserving your relationship through respectful negotiation for the sake of your children.
You recognize that the way you treat each other throughout the divorce process will set the tone for your relationship as co-parents. And you want that relationship to be civil because your kids deserve it.
Mediation enables you to be in complete control of the terms of your agreement. Allowing you to create a parenting plan and custody arrangement that has you spending as much time with your children as possible. While making sure they are financially supported by each of you through child support.
Couples who work with one expert divorce mediator instead of two lawyers complete the divorce process more efficiently, productively, and in turn, cost-effectively.
My wife wants a divorce but I can take charge and mediate!
Finding out your wife wants a divorce can be surprising, disappointing and scary for any husband. Especially since you've probably heard horror stories about guys like you going to court and getting railroaded in the process.
But you need to realize it can be very frustrating for your wife, too, because her goal is to keep the divorce process amicable.
And while you cannot force her to remain in the marriage if she doesn't want to, if you don't cooperate, the way she'll need to go about ending the marriage will be limited to non-peaceful, non-child-focused, expensive options - which will be damaging to everyone involved, especially the kids - now and for many years to come.
So don't let that happen to you and your family, even if you're reluctant to divorce to begin with.
Take charge of your future by cooperating with your wife's decision to divorce and choosing to mediate.
Early in the process?
The choices you make before you start your divorce are critical.
Regardless of how many years you've been married, whether you're the one who wants the divorce, your spouse does or you're both on the same page, the choices you make before you start your divorce will likely set the tone for how the entire process will unfold for you and your children.
And how peaceful, fair, child-focused and cost-effective your divorce will (or won't) be.
But you can only make smart choices if you take the time to get educated and prepare for divorce first.
That's exactly why we created a downloadable kit for smart people like you - to help you do just that!
Joe Dillon, MBA is a professional divorce mediator and founder of Equitable Mediation Services. Joe is passionate about helping couples avoid the destruction of attorney-driven litigation and specializes in helping couples resolve the issues required for divorce -peacefully, fairly and cost-effectively. When he’s not mediating, you can find him exercising, cooking, and watching Cubs baseball.